ARTHUR TRACY Biography - Musicians


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Name: Arthur Tracy                                                                 
Born: 25 June 1899                                                                 
Died: 5 October 1997                                                               
Arthur Tracy (25 June 1899 - 5 October 1997) was a popular American vocalist,       
billed as The Street Singer. His performances in theatre, films and radio, along   
with his recordings, brought him international fame in the 1930s. Late evening     
radio listeners tuned in to hear announcer David Ross' introduction ("Round the     
corner and down your way comes The Street Singer") and Tracy's familiar theme       
song, "Marta, Rambling Rose of the Wildwood."                                       
Born Abba Avrom Tracovutsky in Kamenetz-Podolsk, Russia (or Moldavia), he           
emigrated to the United States with his parents, sisters, and brother in April     
1906. After their release from the Ellis Island Immigrant station, they settled     
in Philadelphia. Naturalized in 1913, Tracy's parents became known as Morris and   
Fannie Tracy.                                                                       
In 1917 Tracy graduated from Central High School. He began studying architecture   
at the University of Pennsylvania but dropped out to become a professional         
singer. He began singing part-time in the Yiddish theatre and vaudeville while     
working as a furniture salesman.                                                   
After moving to New York City in 1924, he appeared regularly in vaudeville,         
joined the Blossom Time touring company and appeared in various New York amateur   
revues, where he was seen by William Paley who offered him a 15-minute CBS radio   
To avoid embarrassing his family if his show failed and to prevent being           
blackballed from future vaudeville bookings for having appeared on radio, Tracy     
decided to make his identity a mystery and borrowed a billing from the title of     
Frederick Lonsdale's play The Street Singer. Listeners demanded to know his         
identity, but it was not revealed until five months after his 1931 debut on CBS.   
The following year he was off to Hollywood to appear in The Big Broadcast of       
1932 with other radio stars, including Bing Crosby, Kate Smith and the Boswell     
In the short film Ramblin' Round Radio Row #5 (1933), his last name is             
pronounced "Treecy."                                                               
Tracy gave his romantic interpretation to such songs as "When I Grow Too Old to     
Dream", "I'll See You Again", "Trees", "Everything I Have Is Yours", "Red Sails     
in the Sunset", "Harbour Lights", "The Whistling Waltz" and "Danny Boy". His       
1937 recording of "Pennies from Heaven" was featured in the 1981 movie of that     
name, with Vernal Bagneris lip-synching to Tracy's voice.                           
The film brought Tracy out of retirement, and at age 82 he returned as a cabaret   
singer at the Cookery in Greenwich Village in 1982. This brought a favorable       
review in The New York Times from John Wilson, who wrote that his vocalizing had   
"a delightful patina of period charm", adding that Tracy was "a spellbinder,       
setting a mood and scene, disarming the doubters by admitting that 'I always put   
all the schmalz I had into my songs.'"